Panelists from all over the US discuss finding common ground with gun violence

Oct 18, 2022, 7:30 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News and the Kem C. Gardner Institute took on the issue of gun violence in America on Tuesday. They assembled a panel made up of people from diverse backgrounds and had a focused discussion on moving beyond partisanship and finding common ground.

In the wake of mass shootings across the country, panelists representing various academic institutions — including Berry College, Heritage Foundation, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Violence Solutions, Wake Forest University, and Florida State University — all agree thoughtful conversation over gun control and gun rights is long overdue.

“This is something that is deeply devastating to communities and we should all inherently realize we are on the same team,” Amy Swearer with Heritage Foundation said.

So, where do they start?

With mass shootings accounting for a portion of gun violence in our country, experts say we need to broaden our focus.

“Work on ordinary violence and you’re a lot likely to have some tangible benefits from then if you fixate on measures that are specific to mass shootings,” Gary Kleck with Florida State University College of Criminology & Criminal Justice said.

The next step, they say, is gaining a better understanding of gun culture and the motivations of gun owners.

Researchers say it’s about stopping gun violence and taking away guns from the bad guys.

“A lot of gun owners think, ‘Well, wait a minute. I didn’t commit a mass shooting. I’m not the one who did something wrong here. I’m a law abiding gun owner,’” Swearer said.

Panelists worked with groups of local lawmakers, police, and policy makers to come up with solutions, which included: addressing mental health, background checks, and specific data on who is committing gun violence.

“One hundred and nine people die every day by gun violence,” Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake City Police Department said. “It’s a big problem. There’s a lot to do and I’m looking for all your help.”

The group also heard from members of our congressional delegation.

Discussion concluded that federal government doesn’t have all the answers, and it’s up to states to share information on what’s working.

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Panelists from all over the US discuss finding common ground with gun violence